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Re: Olympics: Keep Going!

    "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold, since Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and stretching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php3:12)
What's likely the most famous name in the Olympics this year? Michael Phelps? Sorry, Australia. The US took back that relay Gold, giving Phelps a record-breaking "8" gold medals in swimming. A couple days ago as I was paying for the rice and chicken I had just eaten, around the corner from my store, talking to the cashier/waitress, she was all excited about Phelps, "It makes me want to learn to swim!", she beemed. (They have a couple of huge plasma TVs on the wall for their patrons to watch, and during my lunch that noon they had the white water kayaks... amazing stuff!)

What else has been the buzz this year? HOW CLOSE some of these wins have been. 1/100 of a second. They have showed that one Phelps win so many times, and from so many different angles, and at so many different speeds. The one who got Silver (what was his name? will anybody remember?) was 'coasting', and even lifted up his head at the end. 'I've got it made. I've won. See how I'm ahead.' And Phelps "stretched" that extra last push, snatched it away, and won by 1/100 of a second.

The various translations use different words. Some just say "reached". Several say "stretched". That's different from merely reaching. It indicates an effort. But you know... for all that is wrong with the NIV, I find it interesting that they use the word "straining". In the heat of the race, these athletes "strain" to win.

Sometimes straining isn't enough. Dara Torres seemed to be winning, and was bested by 1/100 of a second by the German. How close is that? Not even the blink of an eyelash! (Afterwards, she was joking something or other about "trimming her nails"...either should have, or shouldn't have? That it might have made a difference!)

With such close calls, is it not easy to realize that -all- those athletes are, in reality, on a par with each other. But only -one- gets the Gold...and the bragging rights.

    "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize controls himself in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we an imperishable. (1Co9:24-25)
Last week-end, near the beginning of the events, I happened by the TV (that had been on mute) to see the rowing events. There was this one where 3 teams were duking it out, and the top two would progress to the next heat. #1 was clearly ahead. But #2 & #3 were head-to-head. As they approached the finish line, they were actually the -same-. However, their stroking patterns alternated from each other. When one team was pulling, the other was releasing; and as that one pulled, the first was releasing. And so as the camera zoomed in on the tips of their boats, there was this continual: first one is ahead (as they stroke), then the other is ahead (as they stroke). Back and forth, one was ahead, and then the other...based on the alternating rhythms of their strokes. And suddenly the finish line appeared. Who won? The ones that -happened- to be 'stroking' when they got to the line. Neither team was better/worse than the other. They were the same. It was 'chance'.
    "I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all." (Ec9:11)
Oh yes.... since we spoke of "prayer" this past week, there was the women's cycling event at the Great Wall. As they got to the end of this long downhill, and were rounding the bend to begin the final uphill push to the finish, there was this one woman who took her hand off her bars in order to make the "sign of the cross" on her chest. "praying" She did NOT win! One wonders what she might have gained, had she kept both hands on the bars, so she could have given it -all- her strength..??

God doesn't give us, when we lax up from our duties.

    "Therefore, Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." (2Co6:17)

    "And I heard another voice from Heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, so that you not share in her sins, and so that you not receive of her plagues." (Rev18:4)

But the event that gave me the most serious thoughts was the women's marathon, that was shown last night. I started watching where the woman from Romania had already broken away from the pack and was variations of a minute ahead of the chase pack. And she pretty much stayed that far ahead the rest of the race.

I don't remember how many miles were left to go when I started watching. But it was quite a ways. I might be happy to 'cycle' that far...let alone 'run' it! (Ow! Ow! my arthritis!) But it was interesting to watch her 'stages' through those miles, and listen to the announcers speculating, "Can she make it? -ALONE-?"

She had left the 'comfort' and 'support' of the pack, and forged ahead on her own. What? No 'teamwork'? And as she was on her own, there was a point where (also based on her past that the announcers were talking about, where she had konked out in prior races) it looked to me (and my untrained eyes) like she was -REALLY- STRUGGLING to just keep going. But then, as she neared the Bird's Nest, a second-wind started kicking in. As she got within about a mile of the stadium is where I began thinking how her race was so much like the Christian life.

The world and apostasy tells us that we cannot do it "all alone", but we need "fellowship"....WITH THEM (and their apostasy...things that would seek to best us...like that chase pack). If we were to do it according to Rick Warren...anybody see the news deal where Warren was hosting McCain and Obama, in Warren's 'office' (?). Did anybody else notice that table/shelf behind him during that interview, with all sorts of pagan 'idol' looking objects on that surface? I don't know....did he have objects from all religions of the world represented there? The camera angle and his body blocked the rest of what was there, from view. Thus, you see, in order to MAKE ANYTHING of one's 'self', we must "embrace" -all-...is essentially the philosophy.

Recently it seems like recent e-mails have been of the nature of: pharisees looking down upon an individual due to a past sin, which is now forgiven, but you can't be in ministry. You can go to our school, but you can't take any courses that might potentially lead to ministry. Or: attend a fundamental church a few times, and then get preached at: you need to 'join' -our- church (or a -local- church) in signed/pledged/paper membership. If you don't, you might get to Heaven, but you will lose any rewards. Or.... or.... or.... You that wrote, you know what you wrote about. You-all know, don't you, what is wrong with the VW-edition Bible? It was not done by the 'concensus' of a "society" comprised of a translation "committee". And what's wrong with this ministry? It does not have a (human) "board of directors" to whom to be "accountable". And many of you have your own tales you can tell.

Ms Romania was doing it ALL WRONG, according to 'convention'. If you want to win, you stay with the pack and "strategize". Strategize, another name for "deceit"? As she was getting her second wind, and was again stronger, as she was winding her way towards the Bird's Nest I was chanting at her (like that did any good...it was already a finished race from the other side of the globe at an earlier time), "Just keep going. Just keep going." She didn't need to worry about any extra boost of energy. She was far enough ahead...being -alone-...she didn't need to worry about the others. There was NO WAY they could catch up. Only... unless she 'quit'. Keep going, Keep going, Keep going! And she won.

That's what the Christian life is. We've said on occasion: Salvation is a free gift, but the Christian Life is not a Free Ride. Paul uses the figures of boxing... There's also a local casino commercial that runs: this old man (the trainer?) talking, while the boxer, in training, breathing heavy, is punching the bag. The old man says: In the boxing ring "you're ALL ALONE in there... it's just you and the Man Upstairs... if you've got a boxer against a puncher...the boxer wins".

    "Therefore I run in this manner: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1Co9:26-27)
In the Christian Life, we each, individually, are ALL ALONE before God. We -each- give account concerning "himself" to the Lord. (Rom14:12) In the fight against satan's forces and temptations we are exhorted: "having done all, to stand" (Eph6:13) That passage speaks of wrestling. (vs12) Wrestling, also, is an 'individual' sport. You, alone, against evil. When satan comes at you, you don't have your spouse, friends, or church 'family' to help you. It is you, alone, with God's Holy Spirit. And yes, sometimes, like MsRomania, it gets very tiring and there might be the tempation to give up....to GIVE IN to the taunts. Relax. Not be so 'rigid'. Not be so "judgmental". To go with the 'concensus' of the dialectic...of all the -shared- ideas.

What happens when racers are in a pack...if somebody falls? Anybody close enough also trips over them and falls. Gets hurt. Loses the race. If you "come out from among them and BE SEPARATE", it's just You and the Lord. And if you Keep Going...alone...you win.

    "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so persistently harasses us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb12:1-2)
Amen!